03 May 2018

I’m speaking to you today from Stockholm, during another of the inspiring and encouraging visits that Commissioner Silvia and I have been privileged to undertake during my tenure as General of The Salvation Army.

By the end of my term in August, I will have visited every Salvation Army territory, command and region. To say that what I have seen is diverse is an understatement!

The work being undertaken by The Salvation Army here in the Sweden and Latvia Territory, for instance, is necessarily very different to The Salvation Army in Zambia. The needs being met so tirelessly by the Army in North America vary from those being addressed in South Asia. Different needs, different cultural expressions, different languages… one Salvation Army. I celebrate the fact that though we are One Army, as was made so powerfully clear at our wonderful international congress in 2015, we are not a movement that accepts bland homogeny as acceptable. We must constantly be prepared to review, adapt and reprioritise in order to remain an effective and powerful force for good.

While there is much that is different, we must also remember that which binds us together. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – there is no point in any of what we do, if we do not do it for the One who saves us. The message of God’s salvation and transformation must remain at the heart of all that we do. As I have travelled from country to country, witnessing for myself the exceptional creativity and hard work evidenced in The Salvation Army, it has become evermore apparent that integrated mission is vital. Our ministry must explicitly address the duality of our international mission to preach the gospel AND to meet human needs in Jesus’ name without discrimination.

The innovative and engaging ways in which this gospel message is being shared through initiatives like The Whole World Mobilising, and through the enthusiasm of our children and young people, give me much hope for the future of The Salvation Army. Also, the verve and commitment of the Army’s newer leaders is palpable. We work in 128 countries today. What will that figure be at the end of the NEXT General’s term of office? This Army still has much work to do!

And as we undertake this work, I am similarly encouraged by the ways in which biblical accountability is being built more intentionally into our systems and processes. Friends, we must continue to welcome this, not as an intrusion into our daily routine but as an essential ingredient of good governance. While we strive to do the right thing in terms of our stewardship of resources and our relationships with each other, with service users and with partner agencies, we must always be ready to compassionately give and graciously receive criticism where it is warranted.

As the High Council convenes in May, The Salvation Army’s leaders from around the world will be tasked with electing the next General, the 21st leader of our global Army. Friends, would you join me in praying – very simply – that God’s will be done? Many column inches, tweets, Facebook posts and blogs will be written – of that I have no doubt – but it boils down to this: Listening to God’s still, small voice. And then acting decisively on it.

So pray for the members of the High Council. Pray, too, for the man or woman who will take on the leadership of The Salvation Army as General in August. But as you pray, ensure that – as you pause today – you also listen for God’s still, small voice. Is the Holy Spirit gently nudging you to do something? Perhaps to speak to or offer a helping hand to a friend, colleague or neighbour? Is God calling you to take a more radical step in your discipleship journey?

Stop.
Listen.
Respond.

And may God bless you as you serve him.

Tags: The General